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Rep. McCaul On Afghan Interpreters Left Behind: ‘Executions Are Taking Place,’ ‘Retaliation Has Been Severe’

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UNITED STATES - AUGUST 25: Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, conducts a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol to call on President Biden to publicly commit to continue evacuating people from Afghanistan until all Americans and all special immigrant visas (SIV) applicants have been safely evacuated, on Wednesday, August 25, 2021.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox News on Sunday that Afghan interpreters who were left behind are now facing executions as the Taliban enacts “severe” retaliation against those who helped U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

McCaul’s remarks come after the majority of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants have reportedly been left behind by the administration.

“There are also reports that the Taliban is now carrying out mass killings of former Afghan government officials, former Afghan defense forces,” Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said to McCaul during the interview. “Can you shed any light on that?”

“Yes. You know, executions are taking place. We’re getting videos coming in, stories of interpreters being, you know, blocked by the Taliban,” McCaul said. “Remember, they had a perimeter around the airport itself. The interpreters couldn’t get through that perimeter. Most Americans did. Some got blocked by our own U.S. government at the airport. The State Department wholly failed in this evacuation and we had to rely on groups like Operation Task Forces like Pineapple and Dunkirk, who I implore the State Department to work with, to help get these Americans and interpreters left behind out.”

“But the retaliation has been severe, Chris,” he continued. “You have stories of interpreters being taken home to their families and watching, you know, their wives and families being beheaded, executed before they execute the interpreter. This is not a new and improved Taliban. This is the same old Taliban. They’re reverting back to the same brutal practices.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT:

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: There are also reports that the Taliban is now carrying out mass killings of former Afghan government officials, former Afghan defense forces. Can you shed any light on that?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Yes. You know, executions are taking place. We’re getting videos coming in, stories of interpreters being, you know, blocked by the Taliban.

Remember, they had a perimeter around the airport itself. The interpreters couldn’t get through that perimeter. Most Americans did. Some got blocked by our own U.S. government at the airport. The State Department wholly failed in this evacuation, and we had to rely on groups like Operation Task Forces like Pineapple and Dunkirk, who I implore the State Department to work with to help get these Americans and interpreters left behind out.

But the retaliation has been severe, Chris. You have stories of interpreters being taken home to their families and watching, you know, their wives and families being beheaded, executed before they execute the interpreter. This is not a new and improved Taliban. This is the same old Taliban. They’re reverting back to the same brutal practices.

And, you know, there was reports also — I was on the phone last weekend with top officials at DOD and State trying to get 250 orphaned girls, Afghan orphaned girls, from the university — from the music — you know, they’re musicians, out of the country, had visas, and our own U.S. government would not open the gate to let them in. Now they’ve returned and now they’re under — in Taliban’s enslavement. And we know that they marry off young women as young as 12, many times 14-years-old. It’s a very sick culture, and they treat women like property. I worry about the women left behind as well.

WALLACE: Let me pick up on this, because administration officials continue to say that they believe that they can work with the Taliban, both to get Americans and our Afghan allies out, and also to join together in fighting groups like ISIS-K.

Here is White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have an enormous amount of leverage, including access to the global marketplace, which is not a small piece of leverage, to the Taliban who are now overseeing large swaths of Afghanistan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Given that they are now in charge of Afghanistan, should we try to find some way to work with the Taliban, can we some find some way to work with the Taliban?

MCCAUL: Well, I think in many respects, because this administration ignored the warnings of the intelligence community assessments, overrode the top generals, we find ourselves in this very precarious, dangerous situation where the Taliban is now dictating terms to us, where they are dictating the terms of our exit strategy, dictating whether Americans can leave or not, or the interpreters. And Mr. Putin himself, you know, stared down our president at the summit and said you cannot build ISR intelligence capabilities in the region.

The problem is, Chris, we are — we’ve gone dark. When Bagram went down, when we turned it over to the Afghan partners, now in Taliban hands, with all the cash and weaponry, when our embassy went down, we went dark. We have no eyes and ears in country, and we can’t see Russia, China, and Iran.

This is a major national security threat.

I warned the administration for months to get the Americans out, but also establish this ISR capability, which we have none now. Now we’re left in this very desperate situation, a very bad foreign policy of having to negotiate with the Taliban, which I always — I was always skeptical of having to do.

And, yeah, we do have frozen assets. That’s the only leverage we have left because we have no military on the ground and we have no intelligence capability on the ground.

WALLACE: Let — let me — let me pick up on that because the president continues to talk about our, quote, over the horizon ability to combat terrorist, which basically means we can do it from outside of Afghanistan, and he points to the two hits in the last week or so on ISIS-K terrorists.

How do you assess the terror threat from Afghanistan now that the Taliban is completely in control, and how do you assess our ability to deal with that terror threat from over the horizon?

MCCAUL: It’s a great question. This over the horizon capability is greatly exaggerated because we don’t have anything near Afghanistan. It’s a landlocked country surrounded by our enemies, Russia, China, Iran, who have now been emboldened by this foreign policy, you know, blunder.

So, you know, how do we — how do we go forward? I think we have to establish that ISR. You know, somewhere over the horizon capability means flying from the gulf, probably countries like Qatar, which would be, you know, anywhere from six to eight hours, having to fly, you know, around Iran, over Pakistan, get refueling. This is not — when I talk to anybody in the military, they tell me this is not adequate for us to have ISR capability.

What we need to see, eyes and ears on the ground to see the threat so that we can respond to the threat and eliminate it. We don’t have that capability anymore. And, Chris, we’re going back to pre-9/11 right now, but it’s worse.

WALLACE: Right.

MCCAUL: It’s worse because now they’re fully armed with — with our weapons, our helicopters, and pallets of our cash.

WALLACE: Congressman McCaul, thank you. Thanks for your time. Pretty chilling conversation. Always good to talk with you, sir.

MCCAUL: You too, Chris. Thanks for having me.

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